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European Movers: Northern Rock, Soc Gen, Daimler

Plus more European stocks making headlines Thursday


NORTHERN ROCK was up £0.10 to £1.61... Citigroup ready to provide over £5 billion - At least four serious bidders are in the auction of the company , including JC Flowers and Cerberus, The Times writes. Citigroup is ready to provide more than £5 billion in financing for a takeover, the paper adds.

ICAP was down £0.16 to £5.18... fiscal profit to be at upper end of ests - The company says trading across the group in first half of the financial year has been strong and profit for the financial year ended 31 March 2008 is anticipated to be at the upper end of analysts' current forecasts (£289 million to £305 million) despite the adverse impact of the US$/£ exchange rate.

MICHAEL PAGE was up £0.30 to £4.67... third quarter profit up 38.5%, Cheuvreux upgrades - The company says third quarter gross profit was £123.4 million, +38.5%. Adds that continues to experience strong demand for talent and is confident in the ongoing prospects. Cheuvreux upgrades to outperform from underperform. Notes strong performance. The company says downgraded the stock back in April at £6.00/sh, and since then the stock has come down more than 30% - thus the upgrade.


SOC GEN was up €2.51 to €126.86... The company says 2007-2008 targets are unchanged - In a document published on its web site ahead of CEO Philippe Citerne's presentation at the Merrill Lynch Banking and Insurance Conference, the company says 2007-2008 groups targets are unchanged. Sees RWA organic growth of 10-15%/year; after tax group ROE of 20%; dividend pay out of 45% in the medium term. Sees good perspectives for commercial activities in equity derivatives. Highlights direct and indirect exposure to US mortgage assets and loans leading to limited losses in case of severe stress test. The company says it has a very limited exposure to Structured Investment Vehicle (SIV).

HERMES was up €3.78 to €84.48... Bid rumours unlikely - traders - Traders note the company shares gain amidst rumours of a potential bid from LVMH, Bollore or Albert Frere. However, some market sources say the share is more likely gaining on technical support after having lost ground over several months. They add that the availability of the first half07 figures this morning adds to momentum as traders realise the current share price could be a good entry point.


DAIMLER (DAI) was up €0.22 to €73.05... Renames car division Mercedes-Benz Cars and shareholders have approved the company 's name change to Daimler AG from DaimlerChrysler. In other news: Mercedes group sales rose 7.4% in September to a record 124,600 vehicles.

MAN was up €1.48 to €114.28... Talk of VW linking up with the company without Scania - the company 's stock continues to rise on talk that VW may take over the group without any involvement with Scania. VW is seen offering € 120-125 per share. VW's stake was 29.9% when last reported.


FINMECCANICA was down €0.21 to €20.72... €97 million contract with Italian Air Force - Alenia Aeronautica, a unit of the company has signed with a three-year contract to provide technical and logistics support to the Italian Air Force's fleet of C-130J transport aircraft. The contract, worth a total of €97 million, will be paid by the Italian Air Force over four financial years from 2007 to 2010.

BENETTON was up €0.13 to €12.17... Emerging business growth - Il Sole 24 Ore reviews the company's expansion in Iran since 2005 when the group opened a shop through subsidiary Bencom srl. In the country, the company already had 5 shops licensed to sell its products. In March 2006, the company bought a big shopping center in Tehran. After the US watchdog asked for details on its Iranian investments, the company stated that 2005 net profit in the area amounted to just US$0.5 million. According to the newspaper though, the company this year doubled its presence in Iran and now has 10 shops. Meanwhile, local politicians lament the company's fashion is having a bad influence on consumers. The company also owns four shops in Cuba and 11 in Syria.


FORTIS was up €1.15 to €22.07... RBS Consortium looks set to win ABN deal - the company has received conditional clearance from the EC for the company 's proposed takeover of part of ABN Amro. Traders note market is confident that the company 's rights issue to fund the takeover will go according to plan. Barclays has until 3pm CET today to make a better offer for ABN, but no-one expects Barclays to do so and consequently the RBS-led consortium, which the company is part of, looks set to win the battle over the Dutch bank.


STORA ENSO was down €0.73 to €12.64... Deutsche downgrades to sell vs buy and cuts target to €11.50 vs €17.00. Notes the US dollar has lost 6% against the euro since mid-August and says European paper companies competitiveness in overseas markets has been hit hard and export volumes are at stake. See Special Studies - Sectors.

SAS was up SEK3.75 to SEK121.25... Wants compensation from Bombardier - Canadian Bombardier yesterday refused to confirm if it will start talks with the company regarding compensation over grounding of the company 's Q400 fleet, Reuters reports. - Gonzalo Pascual resigns as chairman of group's Spanair unit. In June, SAS announced its intention to sell Spanair, which Gonzalo Pascual is seeking to bid for.

TELELOGIC was down SEK1.90 to SEK18.90... IBM prolongs acceptance period - IBM said yesterday it will prolong the acceptance period for the bid on the company until 7 December as the EU Commission has extended into a second phase of review. Cheuvreux says this probably implies that the Commission sees some obstacles for the deal.


SANTANDER was down €0.01 to €13.82... Battle for ABN drawing to a close - Barclays' offer for ABN Amro closes today, while the consortium's offer ends tomorrow. The consortium of RBS, the company and Fortis is expected to take victory.

SOGECABLE was down €0.50 to €25.20... Loses exclusive rights to Italian football - the company has suffered a new blow, losing exclusive rights to Italian football, reports El Confidencial. The company says TVE will now show some matches.


SWISS LIFE was up CHF1.75 to CHF311.75... To auction Dutch subsidiaries, Belgian activities - the company aims to auction its Dutch subsidiaries Zwitserleven and its Belgium activities for an estimated amount of about €1 billion, according to Belgian paper De Tijd. Adds it hired Goldman to lead the process. Potential buyers are Aegon, Eureko, Aviva subsidiary Delta Lloyd and SNS Reaal, the paper says.

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